Does your screen have the right colour settings?

TERMS like brightness, sharpness and contrast will have a familiar ring to most computer users. But many of those who delve deeper into the settings of their screens won’t know what to do with other terms such as ‘colour temperature’.

Playing around with the options could pay off, however, and may even result in enhanced imaging and perhaps even better sleep.

Most screens have their own menu that allow you to tweak the various settings and can be called up through buttons or wheels on the frame. How the menu works exactly and what can be changed varies from model to model.

However, there are almost always several modes available for different applications – for work, surfing, games or image processing.

”For the layman, this is actually the best option,” says Leopold Holzapfel of the IT magazine Chip. For the most part, the modes also do what they promise, says the author of the test.

”The manufacturers have usually thought it through.” If you’re still not entirely happy with the pre-set profiles, you can still make adjustments to individual settings.

But what is the right setting? For this, Windows has the built-in calibration aid DCCW, which provides a step-by-step guide through the correct settings to inexperienced users.

Or you could check out one of the many test pictures available on the Internet. Beginners can easily check whether the brightness and contrast are set correctly on their screens by searching for test filters online.

In addition, the experts recommend checking the settings for colour temperature and gamma value.

According to ‘PC Magazin’, a good starting point for the colour temperature is 6500K – this ensures that the white displayed by the screens roughly corresponds to the daylight. Higher values result in cooler colours, whereas a lower colour temperature is perceived as warmer by the human eye.

Experts recommend checking the settings for colour temperature and gamma value. - PHOTOS: DPA
Experts recommend checking the settings for colour temperature and gamma value. – PHOTOS: DPA
A properly adjusted monitor can have other positive effects on your health, especially on your eyes
A properly adjusted monitor can have other positive effects on your health, especially on your eyes

On some monitors, the gamma value is also called gamma correction: This allows users to take action when shadows or colours appear to be too dark or too light on the screen.

Professional calibration is another way of making sure that the red, blue and yellow are displayed correctly. “This ensures that the colours on the monitor will yield the same result when printing pictures, for example” explains Leopold Holzapfel.

A colourimeter is used for this purpose. It hangs in front of the display and checks which colours the screen shows. However, even very basic colourimeters including software will set you back 100 dollars.

Perhaps the biggest reason to check your monitor is because the colours it shows may affect your sleep.

There are studies on this issue, for example, by Christian Cajochen, head of the Center for Chronobiology at the University of Basel.

As a rule of thumb, the more blue light a display radiates, the more alert the user remains – and the worse the quality of your sleep will be, if you decide to keep sitting in front of your computer right before going to sleep, for instance.

For those struggling with these problems, programs such as f.lux, which adapt the screen image to the time the day, may provide some relief: In the morning, you’ll get cool colours with a higher proportion of blue, before the program will switch to warm light and little blue in the evening.

A properly adjusted monitor can have other positive effects on your health – especially on your eyes. A high contrast value is important, for example. Thankfully, the days when computer users had to worry about harmful flickering are long gone.

”This is no longer a problem with modern screens thanks to their high refresh rates,” says Georg Eckert of Germany’s Trade Association of Ophthalmologists (BVA).

Nevertheless, you may still feel some strain on your eyes after working on your PC for an extended period of time. However, it may not necessarily be caused by an incorrectly adjusted monitor.

”In a lot of cases, the reason is that we are too focused on the computer and forget to blink,” explains Eckert. Conscious blinking, moisturising eye drops and regular breaks away from the screen can prevent this from happening. (dpa)